The clocks rolled forward an hour here last weekend. It’s officially the ‘pointy’ end of the year in Australia, and often this means that term 4 holds a huge amount of transition and change for youth ministry.

We start to hear of leaders moving on and out of the ministry into new callings. We start to think about what the new year calendar might need to include. We start to voice our desire for fresh volunteers amongst the wider church family…but perhaps one of the biggest transitions during this time of the year is amongst our students. Our year 6 students are invited along to youth for the very first time and our year 12 students are approaching their final exams.

FRESH FACES AND TOP-DOGS

Term 4 sees us open our youth center doors every Friday night to the year 6 students within our church family and beyond. Naturally, we want our year 6’s to join us in youth ministry as they wrap up their time in kid’s ministry – but it goes deeper than that. We want them to know that we see them as the maturing ‘tweens’ and ‘teens’ that they are – the budding young sophisticates who are adept in everything from popular-culture, to Twitch, to launching personal brands.

While we open our arms to these fresh faces, we also stand tall and salute those top-dogs who are walking through final exams and deciding what their first year out of high school looks like. These year 12 students are in just as much a transitional stage as their younger counter-parts are. To date, their schooling career has been the longest period of their life and for a lot of them, they have been present at youth each Friday night for that entire time. They are about to be totally free agents – what an open door!

HOW DO WE HELP

So, us youth workers, volunteers, pastors and directors have a unique opportunity in term 4. Whether your end-of-year is in December or June, it doesn’t matter. Our leadership teams have all been there and done that. We’ve been that little, anxious year 6 face peeking in at the youth center door and we’ve been that rowdy, excited year 12 student itching for new adventure.

Here are 3 tips for helping your year 6’s and your year 12’s transition well in term 4:

  • Know where they’re headed: Is that new year 6 on a scholarship because she wants to be a pro-basketballer? Is that year 12 studying ridiculous hours because he wants to be a Doctor?
  • Give them something special: Last year, we had youth t-shirts and certificates printed up for our year 6 and year 12 students. We presented them at the end-of-year church celebration service up on stage and everyone made a big fuss of them.
  • Follow them up: This is easy for the year 6 students because you want them to keep coming back the following year, but for the year 12’s it proves a little more difficult. Some move away, some join other churches, some may come back as junior leaders…whatever they choose, touch base in the new year. See how their exams went and let them know that you still see them and have appreciated their presence over the years in your ministry. There’d be no ministry without them!

-Hannah Juanta.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the major transitions your youth ministry sees?
  2. If you welcome younger students in, how do you make them feel special and noticed?
  3. When you send off your senior students, how could you make sure they’re not forgotten once they graduate? Let us know – we’d love to idea-share!